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Stakeholders discuss Windhoek’s looming water crisis

Rowland Brown
Andre Mostert & Nicole Bogott

On the 10th of September 2015, the Economic Association of Namibia (EAN) co-hosted a Business Breakfast with the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The topic revolved around the current water supply situation in Namibia. The event aimed at providing information on the current water situation in Namibia and Windhoek, as well as some of the immediate, medium and long-term solutions to ensure water supply security to the central region of Namibia.

Namwater urged that consumers should save as much water as possible targeting savings of 25% in order to mitigate the severity of the impending crisis. This was stated by Mr Andre Mostert, Namwater Manager for Hydrology, who presented an overview on demand management and highlighted the urgency of an immediate campaign to mobilise the public on water saving mechanisms that the City of Windhoek and Namwater have identified as well as the need of effective implementation of said mechanisms in order drive water saving. 

Namwater also emphasised the need to manage demand through both conscious reduction in usage, as well as improved upkeep and maintenance of water infrastructure, both by households and institutions. He emphasised the importance of reducing wastage of water as a result of leaking taps and toilets across the city. 

There are only two real solutions to the long-term issues, namely drawing water from the Kavongo River, or desalinating and pumping water up to Windhoek from the coast Mr Hugh Bruce, an Engineer at Lund Consulting Engineers CC, argued. He maintains that both options are likely to be highly costly and take a number of years to implement, thus urgency was emphasised in the selection and implementation of one of the projects.

The public participants at the dialogue raised questions as to why this crisis has so far been kept relatively quiet, and questioned how the City of Windhoek planned to drive water savings without the public being aware of the short term crisis. In addition, the participants questioned concerns surrounding the cost of providing water to the city long term, particularly asking why the Neckertal Dam remained a priority for expenditure, while the capital is running dry due in part to funding challenges for water infrastructure. 

The “Water” Business Breakfast is the first in a series of events covering key issues and challenges faced by the Namibian economy. A further Business Breakfast will be held on Housing, which is tentatively set for the 20th October 2015, and a one-day conference on Energy is scheduled for the 4th November 2015 at Safari Hotel in Windhoek.